Licorice and Leaky Gut Syndrome

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The Pure TheraPro Team

The Pure TheraPro Education Team is comprised of researchers from diverse backgrounds including nutrition, functional medicine, fitness, supplement formulation & food science. All articles have been reviewed for content, accuracy, and compliance by a holistic integrative nutritionist certified by an accredited institution.
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Think of your gut lining as a fence that keeps undigested particles within the intestinal wall from leaking out into your system. When your gut is healthy, it serves as a barrier—if there’s a hole in the fence, however, particles can enter into the bloodstream and cause systemic inflammation which can rev up your immune response and lead to a slew of illnesses.

If the holes in the fence aren’t mended, over time, leaky gut can cause skin issues, thyroid abnormalities, autoimmune disease, IBS, inflammatory states such as arthritis, food sensitivities, malabsorption of nutrients, mood swings and mental health issues and more.

Gut issues such as Leaky Gut Syndrome also open the door to invaders, such as parasites, bacteria and other microorganisms that further health issues. The same works in reverse—parasites, bacteria and microorganisms can cause Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Licorice root is an adaptogenic herb that contains over 300 plant compounds, some of which contain antimicrobial and antiviral properties.

Two flavonoids in licorice, glabridin and glabrene, have been found to support gut health, manage stomach discomfort such as pain, nausea and heartburn. A double blind, randomized, placebo controlled study showed improvement after 30 days compared to placebo, with symptom score improvement seen by day 15. 

Licorice extract can also help clear Helicobacter pylori, which is a main cause of peptic ulcers and GERD/heartburn when combined with standard treatment. A clinical study of 120 people found an 83.3% improvement in the arm taking licorice and standard treatment compared to 62.5% improvement in the arm taking standard treatment alone.  

Licorice root also helps support the mucosal lining of the digestive tract, which can be caused by pathogens and even emotional stress. Chronic anxiety can impact hormones, causing adrenal fatigue due to spiked levels of cortisol. Licorice also helps the absorption and metabolism of cortisol, intuitively balancing hormones.

People with high blood pressure and low potassium levels should use caution when supplementing with glycyrrhizin supplements, such as licorice.

Glycyrrhizin, a constituent in licorice, may cause low potassium levels and high blood pressure, which may lead to arrhythmia, edema, fatigue and exacerbate heart failure.

Licorice supplements, however, can be found without glycyrrhizin as de-glycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL), making them safe for long-term use.

A study published initially in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, in fact, found deglycyrrhizinated licorice to be a safe and effective over-the counter stomach ulcer medication. 

Prescription and over-the counter stomach medications have recently been linked to potential health risks. Zantac, for example, has been recalled due to the cancer-causing ingredient, N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) in ranitidine medications (commonly known by the brand name Zantac). 

There are also some worrying associations between commonly prescribed heartburn medications, such as Nexium and Prilosec (also known as Proton Pump Inhibitors) and dementia.  PPIs may affect amyloid-beta (Aβ) metabolism, a marker of Alzheimer's disease (AD).  Evidence shows that PPIs can cross the blood-brain barrier, increasing these levels and the risk for Alzheimer’s related plaques on the brain. 


Our Leaky Gut Defense includes deglycyrrhizinated licorice as well as other natural ingredients that help support a healthy gut mucosa. Glutamine serves as the key nitrogen source for the mucosal lining of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Arabinogalactan from the North American larch tree is a naturally occurring polysaccharide - delivering optimal support for GI health. Research shows that Arabinogalactan may assist role in the creation of gut microflora and may increase valuable short-chain fatty acid production.